When relations between landlord and tenant sour, the consequences can be serious. Campaigns of harassment are waged via social media. When that is ineffective, services may be sabotaged or cut off. Finally, the police or the local authority’s homelessness team receive a call from a tenant standing outside the locked door to their home, their key no longer working, and their belongings strewn on the doorstep outside. No possession proceedings, no court orders, summary expulsion.
Prosecutions under the Protection from Eviction Act 1977 require specialist knowledge and experience. They involve hybrid considerations of criminal and civil law. Is the alleged victim a residential occupier? Are they a tenant, a licensee or a trespasser? Has their right to occupation been validly terminated? These questions arise in many cases and are beyond the remit of some criminal practitioners. Equally, matters such as the statutory defence, reasonable belief and the burden of proof may be unfamiliar to civil practitioners who commonly do routine landlord and tenant work.
We have many years of experience of these cases and can guide our clients through what may appear a legal maze. Members of the team deal with unlawful eviction and harassment of occupier cases at all levels, from the Magistrates Court to the Court of Appeal.